Championship Chat: Karanka can lift Boro

James Marshment discusses Aitor Karanka's appointment, hails Ross McCormack and debates Joey Barton's antics in this week's Championship Chat.

Last Updated: 14/11/13 at 12:30 Post Comment

The Sky Bet Championship is often overlooked for the glamour and glitz of the Premier League, but there's much to be celebrated in the second tier as we find out in this weekly Thursday column.

The race for promotion, and the bid to stay in the second tier, is likely to be as competitive as ever, as we examine all the key talking points from the weekend, and also take a look at what's to come in the matches ahead.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the story comment box, below, or follow me on Twitter here.

To see all the weekend's goals, click here.

Goal of the weekend: Cameron Stewart, Charlton v Leeds

Taking the ball out of the sky, on-loan Hull City winger Stewart crashed in a stunning volley that gave Paddy Kenny no chance in the Leeds goal to bring Charlton level at 1-1 at the half-time interval.

Addicks boss Chris Powell has already described the hit as "our goal of the season so far" - the only disappointment for the club being that it could not prevent a 4-2 home reversal to improving Leeds.

Worthy of mentions: McCormack's fourth, Leeds v Charlton; Barton, QPR v Reading; McCleary, Reading v QPR; Rantie, Bournemouth v Burnley.

Team of the week: (3-5-2) T Kuszczak; J Hobbs, K Bartley, J Buxton; A Adomah, J Barton, W Hughes, P McCourt, A Reid; R McCormack, A Barnes.

Special mention this week goes to Brighton striker Ashley Barnes, who netted his first league goals of the season against Blackburn as the Seagulls claimed their first home win since mid-September.

More significantly, it helped the frontman reach his half-century for the club, and he's already expressed his desire to stay at the club on the back of his double strike.

Quote of the week: Lee Clark

The Birmingham manager has looked like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders this season, and 'Dr Doom' could not even raise a smile despite Blues' morale-boosting 3-1 win at his former club Huddersfield on Saturday.

Speaking after the win, he said: "I haven't particularly enjoyed this (today's win) as I'm seen as the enemy here, and rightly so.

"I've come back with Birmingham today and it's (Huddersfield Town) got special memories for me - it's a fantastic place and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here."

Clark also found reason to moan following two-goal hero Kyle Bartley's red card - his second booking coming as a result of celebrating with his own fans.

"Football is an emotional game," Clark added.

"Kyle hasn't enticed the Huddersfield fans. He has gone to celebrate with his own fans and common-sense should prevail.

"Probably under the rules the referee had no option but you have to be allowed to celebrate. That's what the fans want to see."

Player of the weekend: Ross McCormack, Leeds United

McCormack's four-goal salvo meant he was the hands-down winner of this award this week as Charlton were put to the sword at a rain-sodden Valley.

The Scotland striker's blast not only put Leeds to within a point of the play-of places, it also catapulted him to the top of the Championship goalscoring charts.

The four-goal display was also the former Rangers striker's first senior career hat-trick, but he was quick to pass the praise on to his team-mates as this after match tweet testified:

What a hero!

Gaffe of the week: Chris O'Grady, Barnsley

It's hard to pick on the tall frontman given he's been the Tykes' saviour on more than one occasion this season, but his penalty miss in Saturday's 0-0 derby draw with Doncaster could really come back to bite Barnsley on the behind when it comes to the relegation shake-up.

Game of the week: Blackpool 2 Ipswich 3

You have to feel for the journos sat in the stands at Bloomfield Road on Saturday as the result in this match altered three times in the last five minutes.

Surprisingly, it was Ipswich (no wins on the road going into this one) who collected the victory and upset the form book, as Blackpool lost for the first time at home this season.

Paul Ince's side have been punching above their weight this season, but they'll feel enormously disappointed at taking nothing from this game having led at the half-time interval, and then having equalised in the first-minute of stoppage time. It's a funny old game!

Watch highlights of the game in the video above.

Result of the week: Leicester 0 Nottingham Forest 2

This result must have busted a few coupons over the weekend as Leicester saw their unbeaten home record extinguished by a previously-off-form Nottingham Forest.

It's not that Forest were especially better than their East Midlands rivals, but where the profligate David Nugent and Co failed, Jamie Mackie and the recalled Simon Cox cashed in.

A result that proves once again that you should always expect the unexpected in the Championship.

Disappointment of the week: Huddersfield Town

With three defeats in their last four games, Huddersfield could have been forgiven for thinking they were in for an easy ride against a Birmingham side who had slipped into the bottom three the previous weekend.

And when Anthony Gerrard equalised Nikola Zigic's scrambled opener after 31 minutes, the Terriers probably expected to go on and wrap up the victory.

But they didn't allow for towering centre-half Kyle Bartley to head home twice from set-pieces to earn Lee Clark a sweet victory on his return to the Galpharm Stadium.

Celebration of the week: Joey Barton, QPR

The midfielder celebrated his well-taken free-kick against Reading at the weekend by running over to the bench and holding up the shirt of Alejandro Faurlin, whose knee injury against Derby County last weekend ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Barton was clearly in the mood to take centre stage having playfully chucked a water bottle into the crotch of the stricken Danny Guthrie before standing (again playfully) on his crotch.

Incidentally, had it not been for Barton's antics (and the fact we can bring you the picture), the celebration of the week would have gone to Garath McCleary in the same game. The midfielder celebrated his 205-yard daisy-cutter by lifting up his shirt to reveal the message 'Macie Rose x', who is presumably his daughter and, incidentally, the same name as Mini Marshy (age 8 months).

Hot topic of the week, No 1: Middlesbrough appoint Aitor Karanka

It's amazing what a new managerial appointment can do for the feel-good factor at a club, and Boro's decision to axe Tony Mowbray and replace him with Aitor Karanka could be the most inspired of the season.

From a club stuck in the doldrums under Mowbray, Boro now find themselves back in the limelight following the former Real Madrid assistant coach's appointment at the Riverside.

Quite how Karanka will do remains to be seen, but Boro have always had the structure in place to be successful - all it needed was that spark to get the fans back on board and create a buzz about the place.

Karanka's arrival promises to light the blue touch paper on Teesside and he's already had a ringing endorsement from the Special One himself Jose Mourinho.

The 40-year-old's first task will be to pull the club away from the Championship relegation zone, but long term Boro chairman Steve Gibson will hope he's the man to steer the club back towards the Premier League.

Half the battle on Teesside is having a project that their (extremely cynical) supporters can buy into, and Karanka has all the credentials to bring the good times back to the Riverside.

Hot topic of the week, No 2: John Ryan quits as Doncaster chairman

Outspoken. Colourful. Controversial. However you want to describe John Ryan, the one thing you can't criticise him for is the success he has enjoyed with Rovers.

Ryan resigned as chairman just minutes ahead of the club's fixture against Barnsley on Saturday.

Ryan opted to watch the match with the travelling fans at Oakwell and saw Rovers collect a hard-earned point from a goalless draw.

Reports hinted at a fall-out between Ryan and the rest of the board over the protracted takeover of the club by Sequentia Capital, who Ryan had brought to the table.

The issue appears to have come to a head following a meeting between representatives of Rovers and the Irish-led consortium, which went ahead without Ryan.

Ryan's reign as chairman has coincided with the most successful era in the club's history, including four promotions, a first major cup win in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and a return to the second tier for the first time in half a century.

And, as you will see in this interview, he may be gone, but he's unlikely to be forgotten.

What's to come...

Live on Sky:

There's no Championship this weekend due to the international fixtures but there's the chance to catch the following games from League One:

Bradford v Coventry (Sky Sports 1HD, Sunday 3.30pm kick-off).

Walsall v Peterborough (Sky Sports 1HD, Monday 7.45pm kick-off).

By James Marshment, follow me on Twitter here.

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